For the diabetic patient, food consumed is as essential to his treatment as the medicines he takes. A proper balance of the appropriate foods can enhance a diabetic person's quality of life. Recognizing the ingredients in foods and which foods to avoid can mean the difference between illness and healthy longevity.
How to Make a Diabetic Menu
Before creating a menu the diabetic should understand the components of each food. Be aware of carbohydrates, as well as the glycemic index of foods. The glycemic index measures the rise in blood sugar from carbohydrates in the foods. Carbohydrates can raise the blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetics.
The menu should consist of foods rated low to medium on the glycemic index. Examples of low glycemic index foods are most types of beans, lentils and walnuts. The medium-rated foods are pastas, rices and most fruits and vegetables. High glycemic foods include sugary sports drinks, muffins and watermelon.
A diabetic person’s menu should contain 30 percent to 33 percent carbohydrates for the entire day. Daily caloric intake should be spread over four meals rather than three per day.
Plan your breakfast. A good breakfast choice, according to the American Diabetic Association, is fresh fruit, cottage cheese, ½ cup of oatmeal, and one slice of bread. For those who do not like cottage cheese for breakfast, egg substitutes are equally as effective.
For those who like to substitute foods, a good guideline for breakfast is one meat, two fruits, two breads, two fats, one milk product, and a free food of your choice. Portion sizes will vary according to height and weight.
A faster option for those with busy schedules is to eat 1/2 cup of blueberries and drink one glass of fat-free or low-fat milk as a beverage. Have a slice of toast with margarine and add a "free-choice" food. Free-choice foods can contain high sugar content, but the goal is to keep the quantity low.
Plan your lunch. Lunch should be comprised of the following formula: two meats, two breads, two fruits, one vegetable, and two fats. You can also include a free food of your choice. An example of this menu would be two pieces of bread with ½ cup of tuna, a cup of mixed fruit, along with 1/2 cup of tomatoes. A cup of tea would be a possible beverage. A slightly different option might include two slices of roast turkey and two slices of processed cheese, 1 tbsp. of mayonnaise can be used as a condiment, and three to four graham crackers can be added for something sweet. Another beverage choice might be a large glass of apple juice.
Plan your supper. Your supper should include the following: three meats, two breads, two fats and one raw vegetable. An example could be 3 oz. of baked chicken with a slice of bread. In addition add ½ cup of mashed potatoes with a tossed salad and 1 tbsp. of any type of dressing. If yo do not like chicken, pork tenderloin is an excellent substitute as it is also low in carbohydrates. Mashed butternut squash can replace the potatoes, combined with asparagus tips and a side salad to complete the meal.
Add a healthy snack as your fourth meal to help keep your sugar levels and metabolism stable. Some good choices are graham crackers topped with low-fat peanut butter and a sliced banana. Sugar-free fruit gelatin with some chopped fruit is also a good option. Low-fat microwave popcorn is allowed, although air-popped popcorn is preferred to cut down on the oils.